Stephen (Steph) Curry is world famous for his exploits on the basketball court as a three time champion with the Golden State Warriors. But far less discussed, is the star point guard’s unending love for the game of golf. The new ABC television show Holey Moley was even produced by Curry’s company.
Well, his love of golf and an encounter with a golf lover and Howard University student Otis Ferguson IV, that the NBA Star has announced that he plans to sponsor the redevelopment of Howard University’s men’s and women Division 1 golf team.
The new squads are set to hit the putting green once the 2020-21 college golf season kicks off next year. Curry’s longtime sponsor, Under Armor will be hooking the teams up with new duds while Calloway Golf will be providing clubs and all the other gear the teams will need to practice and compete at a high level.
“Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful,” Curry said. “It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University, and look forward to building their first men’s and women’s golf teams with them.”
Howard University actually had a Division 2 golf team in the past but the program was dismantled decades before any of Howard’s upcoming team members were even born. Moreover, Curry isn’t just blowing smoke when he talks about HBCU students with talent not having a fair shot at the game.
A PGA study conducted in 2018 found that only 18 percent of people who golf for fun aren’t white, and that lack of representation is a big deal for a couple of key reasons.
First, black athletes are often pigeon holed into only playing extremely physical sports like basketball or football. Even though you can watch pool, bass fishing, chess, poker, and even a spelling bee on ESPN, you are way less likely to see black athletes participating in those activities. Second, golf is unique among the set of sports that people play. Golf isn’t just a challenging game, but is quiet, slow, and comfortable. That said, it’s no surprise that golf has become the sport of commerce. You see, no one really talks business when they’re shooting a free throw or hopping four feet off the ground to get a clutch rebound. In this view, Black people’s lack of access to the sport of golf could be emblematic of the way that they often aren’t treated as equals in the realm of business.
Maybe this small step on Curry’s part can change the narrative and show the world that black athletes, competing in less physical sports don’t have to be token or rare. I am not surprised that when Ferguson sought help on campus to start up a club league for golf, his search took him to Kim Wells, former Director of Howard’s career office and now runs the Howard University Executive MBA program and executive education program. Wells knows the value of golf in the business world and understands the value of such a program for college students beyond-the-green, so to speak.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Howard’s President, Dr. Wayne Frederick, praised the gift to the university from Steph Curry this way: “It’s significant. That’s the argument I’ve been trying to make since I assumed the presidency … this is one of America’s best investments. HBCUs, the return on the investment has been incredible for the country.”
Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @razrobinson or send an email at Rrob0904 (at) gmail (dot) com.